Why Medical Doctors (Don't) DO PhDs

By Débora Macedo

I see the medical career as a train ride, a long one. You embark on it only aware of the first stop to come: Graduation. What you don’t know is that you don’t really get to hop off when you make it there. Instead, half way through the journey, you’ve already applied to stay aboard, focusing on the end of Foundation Training. Turns out you’re probably not getting off there either. By the time that journey ends you are holding a ticket to your Core Training trip and by now you probably are correctly assuming that that’s not the end either. After all, you have come too far not to become a Consultant. So you find yourself once again compelled to stay aboard. By the time you finally arrive, you are at the very least in your thirties and somehow expected to disembark with a family and an established practice. What?!

Do not panic! I am here to tell you that despite of how it looks YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE at every station. As you perhaps noticed, the PhD isn’t a station the train goes through. Therefore, to get one you need to hop off, find a bus, a cab and perhaps even walk a few blocks —Obviously bound to, at some point, second guess the detour as the regular journey is long enough as it is. Well, let me tell you: Taking the time off to do the PhD was the single best decision I’ve made. It brought me to Cambridge, where I was able to get a UK medical registration and license while doing my research. It expanded my horizons drastically. It gave me a perspective beyond the herd effect which was bound to run my life if I hadn’t found the courage to dream my own dreams. So please, don’t fall into the trap of believing that you’ll receive happiness and fulfilment tied up in a bow as a reward upon achieving the final station. Realising that the train ride isn’t your career but your life is a game changer.

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